Quality with quantity: how creativity can span diversity and depth

The Art Gallery of Ontario, based in Toronto, has a collection of indigenous as well as contemporary art spanning over 95,000 works. In addition to the breadth of the collection, there are also immersive sections on specific genres, as shown in this photo essay.

27th Jul 2019
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Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 365 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.


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The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is one of the largest art museums in North America. Located in Toronto, Canada’s largest city with about six million people, AGO’s collection spans almost 95,000 pieces of art.


The exhibitions feature contemporary and indigenous works, as well as photographs and installations. The museum also offers stunning views of Toronto's skyline, but the real show is within. The exhibits raise important and sometimes troubling questions about the past, while also opening the door to a more tolerant and expansive future.


Special care has been taken to preserve diversity and inclusion, as shown in this photo essay. AGO’s mission is to become the imaginative centre of its city and province through innovative exhibitions and activities. Scholarship and creativity are embraced in equal measure.


AGO is headed by CEO Stephan Jost, former director of the Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA) and Shelburne Museum in Vermont. Other team members include Lisa Clements (Communications and Brand), Julian Cox (Chief Curator), Kate Halpenny (Development), Mike Mahoney (Corporate Special Projects), Heidi Reitmaier (Education and Programs), Christy Thompson (Exhibitions and Collections), and Alicia Vandermeer (Advancement).


The current exhibitions feature the works of Latvian-origin artist Vija Celmins, with “re-describings” (renderings) of natural phenomena such as night skies and lunar landscapes. Some of her works feature as many as 20 layers of paint.


The Canadian collection spans indigenous, modernist and abstract art. There is also an African collection, with artefacts such as Punu and Lwalu face masks. Many of AGO’s exhibitions are enhanced with its own permanent collection, thus creating new forms and extensions of dialogue.


The Canadian artworks, some of which are showcased in this photo essay, feature Paul Kane, Lawren Harris, Robert Clow Todd, Robert Duncanson, Tom Thomson, Mary Wrinch, Henry Moore, Alexander Archipenko, Cornelius Krieghoff, David Brown Milne, A.Y. Jackson, Alfred Joseph Casson, Frederick Arthur Verner, Brian Jungen, and Arthur Lismer.


AGO’s liberal membership plan allows free admission to anyone under the age of 25, with those older getting a pass for about US$25 per year. “Art is essential, and we’re making it easier for everyone to make it a part of their everyday lives,” according to AGO’s CEO Stephen Jost. “Great cities deserve great civic spaces,” he adds.


Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule, and see how to improve the creative spaces in your own city?


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Got a creative photograph to share? Email us at PhotoSparks@YourStory.com!


See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.



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